ATLANTA, Ga. - Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle recognized Doster Harper, a forestry student at Newton College and Career Academy, as February’s Student Spotlight. Each month, Lt. Governor Cagle features an exceptional Georgia College and Career Academy student who exemplifies academic and pathway success, extracurricular involvement, and strong leadership skills.
“Doster Harper is an exceptional young man with an admirable passion to make a difference in his community and the State of Georgia,” Cagle said. “As the nation’s forestry capital, Georgia is leading the way in innovation and opportunities for our students in this dynamic industry. I am excited Doster has chosen such a rewarding career path which will give him real-world experience through the support of Newton College and Career Academy.”
“I have had the privilege of watching Doster Harper grow over the past four years. He has evolved from a quiet, exceptionally thoughtful student, into a leader who bravely shares his remarkable academic and agricultural insight,” Newton College and Career Academy CEO Chad Walker said. “I have never seen Doster back down from an academic challenge. It says a lot about a student and a person when he volunteers to take on a task more difficult than what is needed - it is a reflection of his character and determination to succeed.”
“Doster is applying the valuable skills he has gained at Newton College and Career Academy to make a positive difference in his community,” Sen. Tonya Anderson said. “I am confident that Doster will continue to excel in the forestry industry, as his motivation and unparalleled leadership make him a model for other students to learn from.”
“Doster truly exemplifies what it means to take full advantage of the opportunities available to students at a College and Career Academy. By applying himself in this critically important Middle Georgia industry, Doster has set himself apart on a path towards career success,” Senator Brian Strickland said.
Roughly two-thirds of Georgia’s land is richly forested, serving as a vital component of the diverse ecosystems found across our state. Thanks to the healthy markets for forestry – including paper, lumber, and over 5,000 life-sustaining products – and a commitment to public policy that supports forest landowners, Georgia is consistently ranked the top forestry state in the nation, employing over 130,000 Georgians and generating $32 billion annually for our state’s economy.
Tell us about yourself:
“My name is Doster Harper, and I am a senior at Eastside High School and the Newton College and Career Academy. I currently serve as the NCCA Chapter President of Future Farmers of America and I am a varsity athlete on both the Cross Country and Track Teams at Eastside High School. Beekeeping is a unique hobby of mine, which I practice at my Career Academy with the bee hives located on our campus. In 2016, I participated in the Governor’s Honors Program majoring in Agricultural Science, and I attended Boys State in the summer of 2017. I’m also an active member of my Youth Group at Stewart Community Church in Covington, Georgia.”
Why did you choose to enroll at your CCA?
“I made the decision to attend NCCA because I felt it could fully prepare me for life after high school. I saw that NCCA presented a challenge to make myself a better student while training for a successful career. My College and Career Academy is home to premier academics, exceptional teachers, and attractive career pathway programs, which all drew me in from the start. Before attending high school, I knew I wanted to study wildlife and forestry in the agriculture pathway, and the Newton College and Career Academy was simply the best way for me to complete this course of study. Looking back on my high school experience, I know this was the right choice as it has allowed me to maximize my potential in academic achievement and taught me how to be successful in postsecondary education and workplace environments.”
What career pathway are you enrolled in and why?
“At my Career Academy, I’ve had the privilege of completing the Forestry and Wildlife Systems Pathway while taking classes in basic agriculture, forestry, and wildlife. I’ve always enjoyed studying science in school, and agricultural science stuck out to me as a freshman. Over the past three years, I have made it my goal to advance modern agricultural methods in order to make them more efficient and sustainable for our environment. Agricultural education at NCCA and the Georgia FFA have given me opportunities to enhance my scientific research skills so that I will be successful in this field after graduation.”
What is the most valuable learning experience you have gained from your CCA?
“For the past two years, I’ve conducted an Agriscience Research Proficiency project aimed at combatting the leading contributor to the global issue of Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees. For my project, I tested the effects that Oxalic acid has on Varroa mite mortality rates in European Honey Bee colonies and compared it to the bees’ ability to clean themselves of mites. My most recent findings supported the idea that Oxalic acid is efficient in causing a higher mite mortality rate than the bees can by cleaning themselves. With this groundbreaking research, I placed first at the state level in my category. I advanced to compete against all other state winners in the nation and I was awarded the opportunity to represent Georgia as one of four national finalists at the 90th National Future Farmers of America Convention in Indianapolis. This accomplishment would not have been possible without all of the help and support that NCCA provided me.”
What services/resources at your CCA have you found to be the most valuable?
“At the Newton College and Career Academy, I am blessed to have Mr. Marcus Pollard as an agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor. He has served not only as an excellent teacher, but also as a mentor to me - guiding me along my pathway to future success. I can also say the same about my academy’s CEO, Mr. Chad Walker, and my STEM Project Leader, Mr. Scott Rains. Each of these individuals, and so many more leaders at my College and Career Academy, have helped me find my identity and purpose in life. I hope to use what I’ve learned about myself in high school to my advantage in the workforce so that I may change the world someday.
Our agricultural program at NCCA is home to many valuable resources, which are available to students of various backgrounds in agriculture. I have personally benefitted the most from our beehives and beekeeping equipment. We have about ten beehives on campus which have enabled me to learn about the science of honeybees and exceptional beekeeping practices.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“Upon graduation from high school, I’m hoping to attend a United States Service Academy so that I can serve as a Commanding Officer in our military. From attending large networking luncheons to simply shaking a trainer’s hand when greeted at the door, the Newton College and Career Academy has prepared me to take on this challenge. NCCA has helped me develop my leadership skills and has held me to a high standard of professionalism that can’t be found anywhere else. NCCA has matured me and helped me develop into the young man I am today – one who is eager to enter college and the workforce in hopes to someday make a difference in our world.”